Smiths Lake

We collaborate with local government to monitor the condition of Smiths Lake. Find out more about the Smiths Lake estuary and its unique features.

Smiths Lake estuary is located on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. It is classed as a lake with an entrance that intermittently opens to the sea.

Occasionally the lake is artificially opened by council to prevent flooding of low-lying areas. The entrance is predominantly closed, so most of the time the water level depends on the amount of runoff and evaporation that occurs.

Smiths Lake is a popular tourist destination, especially in summer. Most development is concentrated around the township on the north side of the lake, with the vast majority of the shoreline undeveloped.

Estuary health and features

Water quality

As part of our water quality monitoring program we assess the water quality and ecosystem health of an estuary using a range of relevant indicators. We sample 3 sites on a monthly basis over summer in Smiths Lake as part of a collaborative program with MidCoast Council.

The most recent sampling was completed over the 2020–21 summer. The results of the monitoring program, including a detailed water quality report card, are available on the MidCoast Council website.

Find out more about our estuary report cards and what each grade means. Read our sampling, data analysis and reporting protocols and find out how we calculate these grades.

Physical characteristics

Estuary type: Lake

Latitude (ºS) –32.4
Longitude (ºE) 152.52
Catchment area (km2) 28
Estuary area (km2) 10
Estuary volume (ML) 23,552.5
Average depth (m) 2.4
Notes: km2 = square kilometres; m = metres; ML = megalitres.  

Water depth and survey data

Bathymetric and coastal topography data for this estuary are available in our data portal.

Land use

About one quarter of the Smiths Lake catchment has been altered by urban development, particularly around the north shore of the lake. Around three quarters of the catchment remains forested and is managed by Forestry NSW and in conservation areas.

National and marine parks

Community involvement

Smiths Lake

Local government management

Local councils manage estuaries within their area unless the estuary is attached to a marine park. MidCoast Council manage this estuary. More information can be found on the council’s Smiths Lake webpage.